- Delight in the tastes of authentic Guatemalan cuisine on an Antigua food tour
- Turn cacao beans into delicious chocolate at a chocolate workshop
- Visit a sea turtle hatchery and learn about this important conservation project
- Swim, surf, and play on the black-sand beaches of El Paredon
|Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua, Street Food & Chicken Buses
|Goat Cheese Farm & Honey Pairing
|Bean to Bar Chocolate Workshop
|Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Village Tour
|Comalapa Authentic Market, Explore Lake Atitlán
|San Juan La Laguna Day Trip
|Transfer to El Paredon, Sea Turtle Conservation Project
|Mangroves Tour, Explore El Paredon
|Free Morning in El Paredón, Transfer to Antigua
|Transfer to Guatemala City, Depart
Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua, Street Food & Chicken Buses
Welcome to Guatemala! Upon your arrival at Guatemala City airport, a driver will pick you up for the one-hour transfer west to the colonial city of Antigua. Once the capital of Guatemala, Antigua is known for its Spanish colonial Old Town and main plaza, Parque Central. Three volcanoes also border it, and the contrast between these imposing mountains and the city's colorful architecture is part of why Antigua has earned UNESCO World Heritage status. Once you've had a chance to regroup, it's time for your family to get out and explore.
Start with a tour that takes you on a deep dive into Guatemalan culture in a very delicious way—through the food! You'll take a guided walking tour through Antigua's cobbled streets, stopping at eight traditional restaurants and street vendors for a variety of savory and sweet local treats. Try savory snacks such as meat or bean-filled pupusas, fried and stuffed plantains known as rellenitos, and of course, the kids will want to try some sweet buñuelos. Your guide will share insight and education on the history of the foods, and at the end, you'll be provided a list of some of the area's top restaurants and bars to try.
Later today, take a workshop that focuses on the legendary, colorful buses you'll see around Guatemala, known as chicken buses. These repurposed US school buses arrive in the country with their standard yellow paint jobs and are repainted and personalized by local craftsmen. Learn about the process the vehicles go through to become road-ready, including how they are "souped up" to travel at higher speeds on mountain roads. You'll even have the chance to go on a quick test drive!
Day 2: Goat Cheese Farm & Honey Pairing
This morning, you'll head out on a guided tour of a Guatemalan goat cheese farm. Learn about the process of making goat cheese while interacting with (and perhaps even feeding!) the goats themselves. The kids will get to play with the goats and other farm animals while your guide shares stories about the history of goat farming in Guatemala. The tour takes you through every step of cheese-making and ends with a tasting of several varieties of goat cheese.
Continue your exploration of Guatemala's agricultural resources with a sweet treat for the whole family—honey tasting. Guatemala is known for its delicious honey, and this tour allows you to try four different kinds. Honey flavors depend on the types of bees, their territories, and the flowers from which they collect pollen. Experience the different tastes, smells, and colors of four different kinds of honey while your guide explains where they came from and why each is unique. Fresh local foods, including ham, cheeses, fruits, and bread accompany the tasting.
Day 3: Bean to Bar Chocolate Workshop
It's going to be a perfect day for the kids when they find out you're going to a chocolate workshop! Besides crops like coffee and bananas, Guatemala also produces cacao (cocoa), which is the main ingredient in chocolate. Cacao has been cultivated here for thousands of years and was even enjoyed by the ancient Maya people. You'll participate in a "bean to bar" class that shares the history of cacao in Guatemala while taking you through the chocolate-making process. You'll prepare your own Maya chocolate drink, and the kids will get to make custom chocolates to take back to the hotel.
Day 4: Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Village Tour
After breakfast, your driver will pick you up for the 2.5-hour ride west from Antigua to Lake Atitlán, the most famous lake in the country. The drive takes you along the Pan-American Highway, which stretches from one end of the Americas to the other (Alaska to Argentina). Along this road are stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. The lake, which was formed more than 80,000 years ago, sits in a volcanic crater with blue-green waters and lush greenery. After you check in at your hotel, get better acquainted with the area with a village tour.
Take a private boat across the lake, enjoying the endless views of water meeting the sky while the kids keep an eye out for birds skimming across the lake, as well as the occasional splashing fish. You'll visit some of the Maya villages that surround the lake, meeting residents, and learning about their daily life. See a women's weaving co-op and learn the basics of creating beautiful woven goods, and see a shrine dedicated to the Maya saint, Maximón, known to be more mischievous than saintly! This afternoon, take a walk to the lake, and the kids can swim or play along the shore.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Comalapa Authentic Market, Explore Lake Atitlán
Your private driver will take you on the two-hour drive to San Juan Comalapa, a town of approximately 50,000 people and considered one of the top art destinations in Guatemala—so much so that it's referred to as the "Florence of America." The city is filled with resident artists, including painters, musicians, and plenty of galleries to show off their work. Your tour takes your family through the village's charming streets, and you'll have a chance to visit local artists in their homes and see their art. You'll also visit the former home of Rafael Alvarez Ovalle, the famous musician who composed the national anthem.
After you return from your tour, the rest of the day is yours to enjoy the beauty of Lake Atitlán. You can take another boat tour and see more of the local villages, or head to the nearby Atitlán Nature Reserve (Reserva Natural de Atitlán), where you can participate in guided walks on hanging bridges through the forests, visit their butterfly preserve, or let the kids take a zipline ride across the tree tops!
Day 6: San Juan La Laguna Day Trip
See more of the local villages with a boat tour that takes you to San Juan La Laguna, a tiny village that operates as a cooperative, producing traditional textiles, paintings, and weavings. Everything is handmade, using multiple techniques from the past in an effort to preserve Guatemalan culture. Visit an apiary and meet the beekeepers there, and the kids will enjoy a painting workshop, where they can learn about the history behind the artwork they see and create. End the city tour with a hike to El Mirador de San Juan, a place decorated with colorful, traditional paintings made by local artists.
Day 7: Transfer to El Paredon, Sea Turtle Conservation Project
Your journey continues as you make the three-hour drive to the Pacific coast and the beach town of El Paredon, one of the premier surf destinations in the country. After you check in at your accommodations, you can take the kids down to the beach for a bit and let them burn some energy while you relax in a nearby hammock.
Afterward, head to the nearby beach community of Monterrico for a very special wildlife experience—a visit to their turtle conservation center. Dedicated to protecting Pacific coast sea turtles, the center rescues sick or injured turtles and rehabilitates them while also running a hatchery for turtle eggs. If you happen to be here between September and February, the kids might even get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help release turtle hatchlings into the ocean!
Day 8: Mangroves Tour, Explore El Paredon
Start your first full day in El Paredon with a ferry ride down the Chiquimulilla Canal, a man-made canal built in the 19th century as a way to facilitate commerce between villages. The canal runs parallel to the coast and is lined with acres of mangroves, creating a huge forested refuge for a variety of wildlife. Cruise along the quiet waters while the kids exclaim over the plethora of birdlife, fish, and even the occasional caimans (a type of alligator) lurking near the shore.
Later, it's time for what El Paredon is most known for—surfing! Grab a board and ride some of the barrels that break the shore, or sign up for family surf lessons. Keep in mind that the currents here can be quite strong, so make sure younger children or those who aren't strong swimmers have the proper safety equipment. The black-sand beaches here can also hold a lot of heat, so water shoes are a good idea!
Day 9: Free Morning in El Paredon, Transfer to Antigua
This morning, enjoy your last leisurely day in El Paredon with some more beach time and surfing fun or take a stroll through town and peruse some of the local shops for last-minute souvenirs. Have lunch at a local restaurant, or take a cooking class that takes you right into a local family's kitchen and teaches you and the kids the art of making Guatemalan tortillas. You can also sign the kids up for a bracelet-making class, where they'll learn to make traditional bracelets that they can take home with them.
Day 10: Transfer to Guatemala City, Depart
More Guatemala Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Guatemala? Check out these other Guatemala itineraries, explore different ways to spend 10 days in Guatemala with your family, or see the best time to visit Guatemala.